What Is Church All About?

Promotions for a new movie called Praise This recently popped up on my TV screen. The plot centers on the dramas around a competition for best church praise choirs. At first I thought this was a reality TV show they were promoting. I thought, this performance-based religious experience has gone too far.

A few church leaders in the US (and elsewhere) surveyed the state of church attendance wondering how to attract young Baby Boomers into church. They observed the success of Jesus Music. Music companies also observed that—and changed the music’s tone and promoted new artists. Seeking to “build a church that unchurched people would attend”, these leaders teamed with the new music to build the “Rock Concert with a TED Talk” style of worship. 

The megachurch was born.

I witnessed a few early ones. Seemed OK. But, like the premise of this move more often than not praise music became a performance.

And church leaders scrambled to get numbers. 5,000 was not enough. 10,000. 20,000. Numbers meant everything.

Realizing that something more than Sunday performances was needed, they pushed small groups. These small groups mostly failed to catch on.

Jimmy Buffet playing to his loyal following of “Parrot Heads” does a better job of involving his crowds than most praise bands.

Maybe the Boomers wanted to be entertained. I don’t know. I’m sort of a Boomer, and it doesn’t fit my profile. Later generations prefer connection. Maybe we all do. And maybe it’s not all about numbers. Maybe growth is a two-edged sword. 

How did the early church grow?

Like the famous restaurant scene in Harry Met Sally, “I want what she’s having,” people were attracted to the early church because of the way they lived and the type of people they were. No gimmicks. Spirit and service. As John Fischer says, Grace Turned Outward

So many have missed the point.

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